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Journalism Hoaxes

  • are information viruses that are spread by journalists;
  • succeed by exploiting specific elements of routine journalistic practice;
  • can be characterized by type, as defined by motives and methods;
  • usually contain red flags that should warn reporters and editors to be especially careful in their coverage;
  • cannot be completely prevented, but reporters and editors can take steps to make themselves less vulnerable.

Combating Hoaxes

The Hoax Project is built on dozens of case histories of hoaxes that appeared in newspapers, magazines, Web sites and television programs. The project provides:
  • case histories, which include articles that turned out to be hoaxes and coverage after the hoax was revealed;
  • a brief analysis of how each type of hoax is most often perpetrated, looking at the hoaxers' exploitation of specific vulnerabilities in standard journalistic practice;
  • the typical red flags for that type of hoax;
  • questions for assignment or class discussion to help journalism students analyze and better understand how journalists fall for hoaxes;
  • resources to help verify information or further understand and guard against certain types of hoaxes.